Iris Prize Festival – Iris in the Community

Working with communities to enable LGBT+ stories to be seen by more people
Mark Williams

Project overview

Iris in the Community was a Big Lottery funded project which ran from 2015 -2018. Its aims were to work with communities across Wales to make their own film and deliver their own mini-Iris film festival utilising films from our back

During the life of the project we engaged with 30 groups across Wales. The work by our Outreach team enabled the festival to develop networks which could be explored further when we wished to diversify our audience.

Working with LGBT+ Asylum seekers we were able to make a film as well as enable their attendance at the Iris Prize

Why the project matters

The project fits with our key message for “more LGBT+ stories to be seen by more people” and our success over the three-
year period included screenings of LGBT+ films in a Cathedral in North Wales; in a hospital waiting area; in cinemas,
theatres, universities and community centres across Wales


For more LGBT+ stories to be seen by more people
We also wished to enable people who could not pay the admission costs to see films during the festival

Headline results

60 people attended screening of group’s own film Glitter plus other BAME LGBT+ films
10 asylum seekers attended Iris Opening night 2017
10 asylum seekers attended Best of Iris screening during festival 2017


Glitter Cymru (group of LGBT+ BAME people including asylum seekers) made Glitter as part of the Iris in the
Community initiative. The film may be viewed here and includes a story of a LGBT+ asylum seeker.

The group also selected films from the Iris Prize back catalogue for their own mini-film festival which was held at Cardiff
University with free admission (donations requested to enable them to attend Iris On The Move, Llandudno
junction). For their own film festival, they selected the following short films featuring BAME people:

Black is Blue
What You Looking At
First Clue
Alaska is a Drag

Key partnerships

Glitter Cymru and Hoops & Loops

What worked

Developing trust. Having engaged with both Glitter Cymru and Hoops & Loops as part of our Iris in the Community project
we had established a network that we could approach in respect of free admission to festival and developing a more
diverse audience.

What didn’t work

Despite meeting with Hoops & Loops on several occasions and developing trust we were unable to follow this through to
making a film with them. This was due to their concerns over impact should people in their country of origin see the film
or recognise their voice (if their image was not captured) or recognise their story (if actors took their role). This did not
stop group members coming to the festival and a continuing relationship.

What you’d do differently if you did it again

We are planning to do this again. Expand our offering to cover the whole festival and not just one day.
Take a more structured approach to our offering including identifying ways in which asylum seekers could be identified at
the door.


This initiative increased the diversity of our typical audience.

You can find out more about  the work Iris Prize Festival here.